COVID-19: Concerns about variant prompt Fraser Health to test some Garibaldi secondary school students and staff

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      So far, there's no indication that a COVID-19 variant has entered the school population at Garibaldi secondary in Maple Ridge.

      According to Fraser Health, however, one member of the school community who has tested positive for nonvariant COVID-19 is in close proximity to a person with one of the variants. The one with the variant does not attend the school.

      That's prompted the health authority to proceed with testing all students and staff today who've been in contact with the school-community member with COVID-19.

      Those who have not been in contact with the person will not be tested. The school will remain open today.

      Fraser Health has not divulged which COVID-19 variant has been identified in the person who does not attend Garibaldi secondary.

      "The variant strain can transmit more quickly and easily but does not seem to cause more severe illness, nor interfere with the effectiveness of vaccines, nor affect our ability to test for the virus," the health authority stated in a news release.

      Garibaldi has more than 1,000 students in grades 8 through 12.

      As a result of the need to test people at the school, the Maple Ridge COVID-19 test collection centre will be closed tomorrow today.

      Anyone with appointments there is being referred to COVID-19 test collection centres in Mission, Abbotsford, and Langley.